We believe that the best place for children is in safe and supportive families.
The number of orphanages in the country, particularly in the Kilimanjaro region, is always growing. Yet over 60 years of global research has proven that orphanages of any size can irreversibly harm children’s psychological, social and physical well-being.
The reality though is that far too many Tanzanian children are being unnecessarily deprived of just that.
Most shocking? The vast majority of children don’t have to be there. 80% of children living in institutional care worldwide have a known and living family member nearby who would be willing to care for them.
So Why Is This Really Happening?
The number one reason is deep-rooted poverty. Caregivers struggle to adequately provide for their children. The whole family suffers and it becomes too much. They therefore believe that only an orphanage could give their children the best life possible.
LACK OF SUPPORT SERVICES
There is little to no access to the comprehensive and holistic services they are desperately in need of so they believe it is their only option. This is made worse by the fact that the services that are available are most commonly directed to one age-group or one program area rather than meeting the needs of the family as a whole in the home environment.
The cost of their children's education is too expensive. While government schools are now free, they can't cover supplemental education costs - uniforms, books, food at school. They believe that because orphanages get more outside support, their children will be able to go to the best schools and have access to greater opportunities.
LACK OF CHILDCARE OPTIONS
It is a struggle to balance their parenting responsibilities (particularly for very young children) while also working to support their families. There is no affordable childcare services. So either young children are left alone and unsafe at home while they work or the caregiver can't work, leading to the family being pushed further into poverty. They therefore abandon young children so they don't have to make the choice.
Disabled children are particularly at risk of being placed in institutions. There is a lack of specialized educational and medical services available. They and their families are also stigmatized for it is believed they are cursed. Raising a child with special needs also costs substantially more, which pushes families into even deeper poverty, making them more likely to abandon the child.